In Between Dreams and History, I wanted to give visual form to the personal and collective memories and imaginings of residents of the Lower East Side. I interviewed neighbors from diverse ethnic backgrounds and age groups who were generous and trusting enough to share their memories. They wrote down their favorite childhood songs, poems, rhymes, as well as their dreams, hopes, wishes, superstitions, prayers, and intuitions.
From their dreams and histories has emerged a communal poetry in which neighborhood residents serve as their own witnesses. I chose to project the texts directly onto the architecture to reanimate buildings with the written recollections. I wanted the lasers to write out texts in real time, letter by letter, mirroring how memories ebb and flow. It is my hope that this ghostly nighttime writing--whether in English, Spanish, Chinese, Yiddish, or Hebrew--can help to soften the divisions between us by tapping into our collective imagination during a few short autumn weeks.
New York City, 1998
After living and working in Europe for seven years, Shimon Attie relocated to New York at the invitation of Creative Time to work in the fall of 1997, on his first public art project in the U.S. Renowned as a photographer and public installation artist, Attie's work is documented in two monographs: The Writing on the Wall (1994) and Sites Unseen (1998). Attie has exhibited widely across the United States and Europe, and his work is in such prestigious permanent collections as the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Berlinische Galerie (Berlin), and the Jewish Museum (NYC).
Shimon Attie photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Workshop photo of Shimon Attie and participants by Marsha Attie